Music

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Remarkable Regrettes Are Coming for You, Too (premiere)

Lydia Night, founder and frontwoman of the Regrettes, joins in the fun during a previous tour stop. (Photo by Alan McCarthy)

If this poppin' fresh power-pop punk quartet led by Lydia Night is heading to your town during the Advanced Placement Tour in December, then run, don't walk, to the concert venue. You won't regret it.

Stepping into the Marquis Theater in Denver on Nov. 27 was like taking a trip in the wayback machine. While the entertaining opening acts fell short of raising the dead from the glam and grunge rock eras, the Regrettes ensured that girl-group power-pop punk is alive and well. Hearts are pounding and blood is boiling as this fresh-faced mod squad's spirited romp shakes frenzied fans back to the future.

The remarkable Regrettes, a Los Angeles-based quartet founded in 2015 and fronted by lead vocalist-primary songwriter Lydia Night, had an adoring crowd in the palms of their hands even before they struck a power chord. Squeals and shrieks of delight rang out as the group members checked their instruments before returning briefly backstage.

The Regrettes' Genessa Gariano (left) and Lydia Night perform at the Marquis Theater in Denver on Nov. 27. Photo by Michael Bialas

So just imagine how Night and Co. — dazzling lead guitarist Genessa Gariano, and recent additions Drew Thomsen (drums) and touring bassist Brooke Dickson — were treated when they officially hit the stage for their first show on the 15-city Advanced Placement Tour that also includes Micky James and Welles.

It has been ages since I graduated from high school, but it's hard to believe that Night is only 18 yet has been making music for more than half her life. A commanding, charismatic, and confident onstage presence after stops at major festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, she writes clever lyrics, sings passionately, moves playfully and leads effectively while keeping everybody else on their toes. Coming from someone who had trouble finding his way to class as a high school senior, that's delivered with a sense of shock and awe.

In true, rapid-fire punk fashion, the three young women on guitars backed by a 21-year-old male drummer reeled off 11 songs plus an encore in 45 minutes. The Regrettes built the rambunctious set in and around eight tight yet power-packed tracks off 2017's Feel Your Feelings Fool!, their full-length album debut for Warner Bros. Records that was produced by Mike Elizondo (Tegan and Sara, Twenty One Pilots).

Lydia Night leads the Regrettes through a fast and ferocious run in Denver. Photo by Michael Bialas

Night's songs are laced with girl empowerment themes, but the guys (at least the ones who who aren't the targets of her biting lyrics) are invited to join in on the fun. "Picture Perfect" (with chants of "Oooh, baby, baby, ba-ba-ba-baby"), "Hot", and "You Won't Do", provided plenty of ammunition from the album, along with latest single "Poor Boy".

The standalone track was released on 16 November and served as a show of support for victims of sexual abuse and rape as much as an anti-Brett Kavanaugh anthem over issues unveiled before he became a Supreme Court justice.

"We're releasing this song because we are done with letting abusers walk free," the Regrettes wrote to accompany the official lyric video (created by Gariano, a 21-year-old illustrator with at least one album cover in her portfolio) on YouTube. They also are asking fans to donate to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an organization advocating for the rights of anyone affected by sexual violence.

The Regrettes - Poor Boy [Official Lyric Video] youtu.be

Deliberately delivering a fierce message — Poor boy, what ya gonna do? / These girls are comin for you — the song is punctuated by Gariano's headbanging riffs, and received an enthusiastic response from the enraptured Denver audience.

The music said it all, and Night, a vision of carefree youth with ponytailed purple hair in perpetual motion, tiny hearts under each eye and a Wango Tango 2000 *NSYNC T-shirt, kept her in-between-song banter to a minimum early on.

Still successfully increasing the intensity level by performing "Hey Now", their quivering signature track from Feel Your Feelings Fool!, Night took a brief moment to point out this was Dickson's first Regrettes show. Then she made sure everyone in the crowd knew how to give a certain hand gesture while setting up their next-to-last song before the encore.

"Beautiful, OK, OK. Put 'em away," Night said. "So [do it] during the chorus of the song. And I want that to be a really meaningful middle finger, OK? Not at us, I hope. I need you to picture someone that just really fucking grinds your gears. You know what I'm saying? And just give them one of those. Or two of those!"

With that, the Regrettes strolled into "Seashore", the singer addressing the high-and-mighty judgmental cases in the world who are "talkin' to me like a child". The song revs up just in time for Night to tell it like it is: "I'm like nobody else, so you can just go fuck yourself / I do a lot of stupid stuff but don't act like you're so tough."

If that smells like teen spirit, take a big whiff, whether you're a middle-ager, senior citizen or hail from Gen X, Y, and Z.

The content and construct of their songs aren't a one-dimensional attempt by male-bashing man-eaters to search and destroy, though. Even with movie star looks (think Jennifer Lawrence, 10 years ago), Night can laugh at herself through the pain, too.

She does exactly that in "Ladylike/WHATTA Bitch" ("It's about me being a bitch," she informs onstage) and "A Living Human Girl," dealing with a list of every teen's insecurities — pimples, greasy hair and prickly legs among them.

The Regrettes "California Friends" [Official Music Video] youtu.be

"California Friends", one of the Regrettes' most recent songs that opened the show and got the crowd bouncing so gleefully that the floor seemed ready to cave in, revels in a bundle of boundless energy and incredibly infectious hooks (with bandmates sounding like a cheerleading chorus line) to detail the doubts that go with falling in love, getting groovy at the movies and listening to Madonna.

Back in the day, the Material Girl might have been a major role model for Night (she covered the Madonna song that was captured on video), yet among the artists and genres the Regrettes currently like (as listed on their Facebook page) are the Ronettes, Kate Nash, Joan Jett and 1950s doo-wop.

Night also has mentioned the Crystals and the Ramones as major influences, but also allow their crossbreeding tendencies to include the best qualities of the Pretenders' Chrissie "Don't Fuck With Me" Hynde, X's Exene Cervenka, the Waitresses' flirty Patty Donahue, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O, Hole's Courtney Love, Garbage's Shirley Manson and Blondie's Debbie Harry, all of whom I have seen and admired.

On the Regrettes' 2108 EP Attention Seeker, a cover of Dion and the Belmonts' "A Teenager in Love" is among the five songs, so mouth-watering anticipation awaits as they prepare to deliver their next album in the spring.

Night's ability to take what's tried and true and mash it up into something new should attract more attention and thrill-seeking legions as her band continues to click through this cross-country tour that winds up in San Diego on 16 December.

In Denver, she even encouraged the crowd to form a "kind and loving mosh pit" before "You Won't Do", the last song before the "Hot" encore. "I think it's really important on this last song, we really give it our body and soul," she said.

To borrow from a popular phrase, if the Regrettes get them by the souls, their bodies, hearts and minds will surely follow.

See more photos from the Advanced Placement Tour.

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